Just recently, a user on Pendlay Forum asked John Coffee a series of questions; we feel the need to share the questions (and John’s answers) on our website as they may serve value to someone.
Just a few questions if you don’t mind:
a) Regarding brand new lifters that want to take up Weightlifting. Do you have any general guidelines to get them started? For example, do you teach them the full lifts right away if they have flexibility? Do you teach the snatch before the cleans? Etc..
JOHN: In general I usually teach the full squat snatch first, starting with overhead squats, drop snatch, shrugs from the hips, snatch from the hips, and then working down to the floor – mid thigh, knees, mid shin, floor. Sometimes I can have someone doing a fairly good squat snatch in 30 minutes, and then again some take much longer. The great ones usually can learn quick. I do the same with the clean & jerk. Of course technique must always be practiced and criticized and often modified.
b) I noticed that when you observe your lifters during each lift, you tilt your head sideways. I’m just wondering, but does this help you observe the bar path better?
JOHN: I do this so that I can get a better idea of what’s happening during the critical stage when the bar should brush (not bang) the hips.
c) What are some Weightlifting books would you recommend to someone who wants to learn more about the sport?
JOHN: I think Artie Dreschler’s Weightlifting Encyclopedia is very good. Both of Tommy Kono’s books are very good as are Carl Miller’s books. Bob Takano’s book, Harvey Newton’s book, Matt Foreman’s book are also good books. One should read a wide variety of weightlifting material from as many different sources as possible. The Russian books that Bud Charniga has translated are well worth a close look. It’s even good to read old stuff from old issues from muscle magazines: Strength & Health, Muscle Builder, and Ironman.
d) About upcoming coaches. What advice would you give them?
JOHN: The most important thing for aspiring coaches to learn is how to teach technique and to always remember that people are different and may need slightly different variations in technique. Some may have hips a little higher at the start of the pull than others, a few people may do better with the split style of snatch or clean. It’s also worthwhile to learn about many styles of training and not to be a slave to just one way of doing things. Different people may have wide variations in recovery ability and need to do more or less volume and intensity. One can never know it all, and one should never stop striving to learn more.
Best wishes, John B. Coffee